Taiping poised to play bigger economic role [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) THE town which was founded as a result of peace between the warring Ghee Hin and Hai San miners is today still a picture of calm, though no longer tagged a "retirees' paradise".
While Taiping's famous Lake Gardens used to draw pensioners and children, exercise buffs are now a common sight.
Just like other "secondary" cities around Malaysia, Taiping has now come under the radar of investors - both foreign and local - with its industrial town Kamunting emerging as a favourite among multinational corporations.
The presence of McDonald's, Starbucks, KFC, Sushi King and Switch - the premium reseller of Apple products - is an indicator of Taiping's affluence.
Taiping-born Datuk Redza Rafiq recalls his family home fetching a selling price of nearly eightfold over a span of three decades.
The chief executive of the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) is mindful of how development has slowly been rearing its sometimes ugly head in Taiping and is bent on ensuring that the heritage charms and attractions of his hometown are preserved.
NCIA, which this week officially opened its Taiping office within the grounds of Lake Gardens, had for the first six months of this year facilitated the entry of RM166.5 million investments into Taiping and Kamunting.
These include the development of a shopping mall and the four- star Novotel Hotel.
Fresh investments of more than RM400 million are expected to flow into Taiping and Kamunting by the end of this year, and these are part of the 34 entry-point projects worth RM18 billion which come under the second phase of the development in the Northern Corridor Economic Region, which encompasses Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis.
The Perak government is looking at positioning the Taiping- Kamunting area as the northern region's second high-technology park.
Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir's vision is to model the park along the lines of Malaysia's first high-technology park - the Kulim Hi-Tech Park in Kedah which opened in 1996.
Covering 1,700ha, the Kulim park is home to some of the world's big firms such Intel, First Solar, BASF, Celestica, Entegris, Infineon Technologies, Fuji Electric, Panasonic and Silterra.
The proposed second hi-tech park will be different from the Kulim Hi-Tech Park, which is centred on the semiconductor and solar industries.
With infrastructure already in place, other investments by the federal government in the northern region, such as the second Penang bridge and the Ipoh-Padang Besar double-tracking project, will facilitate businesses done at the Taiping and Kamunting area.
Other selling points are a ready pool of skilled workers for the downstream light-emitting diode and upstream mechanical sectors, aquaculture, agriculture and automotive digital design.
As a town known for many firsts, such as having the country's first railway, telegraph office and prison, Taiping is poised to regain its place as a meaningful contributor to Perak and Malaysia's economies.
Just like the droves of Chinese settlers who arrived to make their fortunes in the early days of the tin industry, the historical Town of Everlasting Peace is now set to welcome home many of its young people who have had to move to bigger towns in search of jobs and higher education.
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